In 2016, microlending nonprofit Village Launch started its Business Entrepreneur Academy (BEA) to provide formal business knowledge and meaningful business relationships for aspiring entrepreneurs like Javela Singleton and Tyler Kelley, local business owners featured in an Upstate Business Journal article.
Village Launch is an arm of Mill Community Ministries, which is led by Class of 2011 Furman University psychology alumnus Dan Weidenbenner. Furman sociology alumna Mallory Boyd (Class of 2013) is program director at Village Launch, whose BEA has seen 47 businesses graduate. Expansion plans for Village Launch are in the works and include a co-working space in West Greenville, an incubator commercial kitchen, and a new curriculum that addresses native Spanish speakers.
Furman English major Sarah Bourlakas (Class of 2019), an intern with Community Journals, pens the piece.